Another tranche of N243 billion Paris Club Refunds was recently released to states of the federation, majorly for the payment of salaries and pension. The funds were released to state governments as part of the wider efforts to stimulate the economy and were specifically designed to support states in meeting salary and other obligations, thereby alleviating the challenges faced by workers.
The release was conditional upon a minimum of 75 percent being applied to the payment of workers’ salaries and pensions for states that owe salaries and pension. Ogun State Commissioner for Finance, Wale Oshinowo, said Governor Ibikunle Amosun had approved that N4.5 billion of the N5.7billion received should be spent on cooperative deduction arrears to all categories of workers.
Oshinowo said N3.4 billion had been disbursed for the payment of six months’ arrears of outstanding cooperative deductions to all categories of the workforce at the state level; N1.1 billion was disbursed for the payment of three months of outstanding cooperative deductions to workers at the local government level. The balance of N1.2 billion would go into state expenditure.
He said whereas the Federal Government had advised state governments to use at least 50 per cent for payment of workers’ emolument, Amosun had apportioned 79 per cent to the workforce.
In December 2016, Governor Amosun had also approved the total sum of N12.5 billion for the payment of gratuities, cooperative deductions arrears and severance allowance of former political office holders in the state. In the earlier transaction, the sum of N5.5billion was disbursed for the payment of six months arrears of outstanding cooperative deductions to all categories of the workforce.
Another N6 billion was disbursed for the payment of gratuities to pensioners covering the period between November 2012 and January 2014. Not less than 2,429 retirees benefitted from the gratuity payment.
The Amosun-led administration on assumption of office in 2011 started clearing the backlog of gratuity payments from 2007.
It should also be noted that in December 2016, the governor had approved the payment of N1 billion to clear the balance of severance allowance due to political office holders who served the immediate past administration of former Governor Gbenga Daniel between 2007 and 2011 as well as those who served between 2011 and 2015. The payment in 2016 came from the N10.6 billion Ogun State government received from the Paris Club refund, which the federal government shared to different states of the federation.
Whereas the federal government had advised state governments to use only 50 per cent of the fund for payment of workers’ emolument, the Ogun State governor decided to spend it all on the workforce. “Ogun State is not only using the entire fund it received but has also added N1.9 billion,” the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Barrister Taiwo Adeoluwa had said.
He added then that this was aside the fact that the state government had paid December 2016 salary plus 13th month salary to all categories of workers at both state and local government levels.
The Civil Service remains the engine room of every successful administration and a vital instrument for the formulation and execution of all government policies in Nigeria. It is the organ of government established by the constitution to ensure continuity through the provision of records and procedures guiding the activities of the successive administration. They also often use historical precedents for reference and guidance, and ensure that similar cases or problems are treated according to the extant laws, rules and regulations.
Governor Amosun has consistently reaffirmed the important roles that civil servants have played in the execution of major well-thought programmes embarked upon by his administration. In his words, “the Ogun State Civil Service has remained as an indispensable partner to the current administration in the state resulting in the monumental success so far recorded in the area of socio-economic development.”
The governor is of the opinion that the success or failure of any government largely depended on its relationship with the workforce, admitting that though the economy of the nation was not buoyant; his government would not relent in providing better welfare package for the workers.
His administration has always viewed Ogun State Civil Servants as the bedrock of any meaningful development in the state. The governor considers that any government that desires to have unassailable achievements must not down-play the all-embracing roles of the civil servants as a needed catalyst for the positive and rapid transformation of the society. It is the sincere conviction of the governor that this cooperation must not only be acknowledged but also celebrated.
In the past six years, the administration of Governor Amosun has not only continually explored avenues to enhance the efficiency and productivity of the Ogun State workers, he has also been able to put forward a series of exciting programmes and activities to foster amity among the workers across all agencies.
It is part of the governor’s commitment towards the welfare of the civil servants that he approved the sum of N4.5billion for the payment of cooperative deductions arrears to all categories of workers in the state.
This is because the governor is not oblivious of the fact that a well-rounded and productive Civil Service is deserving of a whole range of emolument: salaries, running cost, leave bonus and promotion. Governor Amosun has been giving tremendous support and inspiration to the entire Ogun State civil service since his assumption of the mantle of governance of the state in May 2011. To demonstrate its commitment to the welfare of the workers, Ogun was one of the first states to implement the new minimum wage across board in Nigeria. The state had set the base as N18, 250 which is more than the national minimum wage. It also ensures timely payment of workers’ salaries. Indeed, Ogun is one of the few states that have survived the biting economic challenge occasioned by the dwindling allocation from the federal government which has made it impossible for many of the states of the federation to pay their workers’ salary.
While the governor is not unmindful of the fact that he needed to do more, the fact must be appreciated that the state government is being handicapped by the current economic challenges, which the country is gradually climbing out of. But, all efforts are in top gear to see that the government continues to deliver on its commitments and obligations in pursuit of further enhancing the welfare of its workers.
As Governor Amosun pledges the commitment of his administration to continue to see to the welfare of the workers, it is important for the entire workforce to continue be partners in progress and avoid unwholesome tendencies that may lead both parties on the path of ignominy, retrogression and unnecessary confrontation. Together, both parties will reap the fruits of patience, sacrifices, pains and hard labour to the greater good of Ogun State.
- Durojaiye is the Special Adviser, Information & Strategy to Governor Amosun.